OSLO — Norwegian Prime Minister Gro Harlem Brundtland resigned Friday as head of her minority Labor government, clearing the way for a center-right coalition to take power.
The action followed a loss by her Labor Party of eight Parliament seats in the Sept. 11 election. It was the party's worst showing since 1930.
Brundtland, 50, Norway's first female prime minister, formally handed her resignation to King Olav V at his castle in central Oslo.
"It's best to have the new government sorted out quickly," Jan Syse, Conservative leader and prime minister-elect, told reporters as he arrived at the castle, where the king asked him to form a government.
Brundtland forged a reputation as an environmental champion and fighter for women's rights during three difficult years of government.
She named seven other women to her Cabinet when she took power in 1986, claiming it as a world record. She also pushed through laws to increase maternity leave and build more kindergartens.
Brundtland's work since 1983 as chairman of a U.N. commission on environment and development helped bring her international recognition.
However, the Norwegian media often condemned her domineering and brash manner. She was also criticized for being out of the country too often during her environmental campaigns.
Economists have credited her government for much of the recent economic recovery, but the price has been record levels of unemployment.